EPISODE 13, THE FINALE of ARA1
Teams leave from Dubai. It does not say whether Amazing Race Asia put them up in the fabulously expensive rooms at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, but probably not.
Andrew/Syeon leave at 323am
Zabrina/Joe Jer leave at 340am
Sandy/Francesca leave at 426am
All teams go to Dubai International Airport to get flights 6100 km to Kuala Lumpur. A/S and Z/JJ are there early enough to connect through Singapore. S/F connect through Bangkok. It's supposed to result in a one hour advantage for the first two, but all three teams arrive at the same time in KL. All teams go to get the next clue at the base of the Menara Towers and it sends them to Kuching, Sarawak by air. Once landed, they take a marked car to find the clue at a Cat Statue (what the clue does not say is that there are 5 such statues). So, we have another BUNCHING moment at the KL airport, but this is the last for ARA1.
On arrival in Kuching, S/F decide to find it themselves and do so third. Z/JJ hire a taxi for the entire day to follow and this works out well for them. In finding the correct Cat Statue, they are 2nd. A/S believe that their Lonely Planet guide can get them everywhere they need to go. In downtown Kuching, they are right and it gets them 1st to find the cluebox by a Cat Statue.
Next is one of those useless tasks where they go to the Old Courthouse at 20 Gambia Road to find the next clue only. That puts teams within walking distance of one of the next tasks. Some teams drive and some walk.
Next is the DETOUR BRAWN (carry 30kg of fruit from a boat to a wet market) or BRAIN (assemble a bench using only tools, parts and a SONY Cybershot picture). All teams choose BRAIN.
First to finish is Andrew/Syeon. Next is Sandy/Francesca who were making up time from arriving last. Zabrina/JoeJer finished about 15 minutes later.
Next task is to self-drive 35 km to Sarawak Cultural Village. The main challenge is to get out of Kuching and onto the correct road to the hinterlands.
Here A/S are totally lost. They were following the do-it-yourself spirit that should be the way that all Amazing Races are conducted, but it cost them dearly becasue their Lonely Planet guide or their interpretation of it were not up to this task. They go to Sarawak Cultual Village at least 15 minutes behind and are effectively out of the race for the final 2 spots as a result.
Sandy/Francesca used a taxi to follow for part of the day and they did so here. They arrived at the same time as Zabrina/JoeJer.
The first task at the Village was to find a valid clue. Long houses were searched until you found the correct one. Then a team went to using a Blowpipe for each team member to shoot a dart into a colored pineapple hanging down from a rope. They had to alternate colors hit and shots by the team members.
S/F finished this slightly ahead of Z/JJ. However, coming out of that area they chose a path back to the parking lot that was longer while Z/JJ took the shorter path. As a result, Z/JJ got a slight lead for the trip to the next task, "Who Can Swing?" Roadblock.
Teams drove themselves(behind taxis) to a Permas Rainforest Resort 32 km. There one member did the Treetop High Ropewalk and Balance Beam Challenge. Zabrina had elected to do it against Francesca. However, since numbers were drawn and there was only one apparatus and no way of passing, teams would finish in the order they started unless one competitor fell off. Zabrina and Francesca were both quick and finished about the same 2 minutes apart that they started.
The final clue sent teams to the adjacent Damai Beach, where they take a boat across open water to Baku National Park, where you walk across a small strip of sand to a mangrove boardwalk. There was no place except on the sand for any team to pass another and I'm sure the boat captains were strictly regulated in their speed. The result was that Zabrina and JoeJer found themselves on the mat in first place, winning $100,000. About 2 minutes later Sandy and Francesca finished. Approximately 15 minutes later Andrew and Syeon finished. All teams were worthy competitors and any one of them could have won a justified winner of this race.
I felt it was a bit sappy of ARA1 producers to eliminate any competition for the final part of the race, but there was ample competition in Kuching and Sarawak Cultural Village. Overall, I felt that ARA1 was as exciting as any regular Amazing Race. The finish was as close as any except AR2 and except what AR6 would have been except for the train in Ping Tom Park. The casting was absolutely top-notch. These were real people. Andy and Laura were right up there as villains with Joe and Bill in AR1(but not AR11 where they were much nicer), Chip and Reichen in AR4, and Jonathan and Victoria in AR6. We did not get to know Ernie and Jeena and what we did get to know of Jacqueline and Aubrey I did not like, but all the rest of the ARA1 teams were sparkling in their personalities. I particularly liked Mardy and Marsio. Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri, who were executive consultants for ARA1, could learn some huge lessons from ARA1 casting in comparison to what we have seen in U.S. Amazing Race casting for the past several seasons